PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It's every parent's worst nightmare – schools going on lockdown following a threat of violence.
Each one could carry serious consequences.
The Educators' School Safety Network tracks school threats nationwide and they've seen a jaw-dropping 600 percent increase this fall, compared to the last pre-pandemic school year.
Most of the time, kids don't have the ability or plan to inflict any harm and are doing it more as a prank or as an attempt to be funny.
Law enforcement, however, said threats always increase following a tragedy, such as the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
"I think in part it's become so publicized that other people, other schools are copycatting, and that becomes a common thing where copycats begin to spring up both with threats that weren't intended to be carried out," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. "But also, sometimes in the minds of some people somewhere, we know it's fermenting; I want to do something."
School districts offer tips on how parents can help prevent threats including knowing their child's passcodes to access their electronic devices, and monitoring their social media accounts and activity for inappropriate photos or searches.
Parents also can consider downloading an app to help create parental controls on those electronic devices.
Here in Pennsylvania, parents can report anonymous concerns through the Safe2Say program.
It has an app, website, and 24-7 crisis center.
Since its launch in 2019, it has received nearly 83,000 tips and more than 26,000 of those came in during the last school year.
That's an increase of more than 15,000 from the previous year.
You can call their hotline at 844-723-2729 or you can download the app right here.
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